BACKGROUND The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy and safety of acupuncture therapy for patients with hypertension. MATERIAL AND METHODS We searched PubMed, Embase, the Cochrane Library, the Chinese Biomedical Literature Database, the Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure, and the Wan-fang Data Database from inception through 29 April 2017. Randomized controlled trials investigating acupuncture therapy for hypertension were included. Review Manager 5.3 software was used for the data analysis. RESULTS A total of 30 RCTs involving 2107 patients were included. The overall methodological quality of the included studies was low. Pooled results demonstrate that acupuncture plus anti-hypertensive drugs is better than anti-hypertensive drugs alone at reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP and DBP). The same result was observed for pooled data from experiments that compared acupuncture plus medication to sham acupuncture plus medication at reducing SBP and DBP. However, studies reveal that using acupuncture alone or anti-hypertensive drugs alone do not differ in the effect on lowering blood pressure. Similarly, acupuncture alone also did not differ from sham acupuncture alone, and electroacupuncture versus anti-hypertensive drugs was not significantly different at reducing SBP and DBP. CONCLUSIONS Our systematic review indicates there is inadequate high quality evidence that acupuncture therapy is useful in treating hypertension, as the exact effect and safety of acupuncture therapy for hypertension is still unclear. Therefore, research with larger sample sizes and higher-quality RCTs is still needed.
Keywords: Acupuncture; Randomized controlled trial; essential hypertension; meta-analysis.